The music was playing softly in the background, and for a moment, Charlotte had forgotten about the crowd of onlookers as she held her fiance tightly. “Every time I look at you, it’s like the first time all over again,” Jeff murmured. “You were even trying to get my attention back then. What was it you said when we first met? ‘I’m trying to hypnotize you! Why isn’t it working?’ ” He mocked. “You’ve hypnotized me, Charlotte.”
“Oh, shut up,” She whispered, a smile gracing her perfect lips. He loved every part of her. Her vibrant smile, her illuminating anger, her quiet thoughtfulness, the way she fought so hard for what she cared about, the way she raised their wonderful children…
“You’ll have to make me, you know.” He drove her wild with the constant teasing, but she couldn’t imagine herself with anyone else.
“It won’t be hard to do that, you know,” She mimicked, sliding her arms around his neck. This was everything she had ever wanted and was too embarrassed to admit. A lover, a husband, a friend, a father to her kids. Jeffrey was everything. But she couldn’t help but wonder if he would go back if he had the opportunity. Even if he had told her himself, he wouldn’t. But, why wouldn’t he? It must have been easier in the past. He had children he must have missed. Here there was trouble. Constant trouble, and a wife who couldn’t reign her anger in to save her life. Her grip around him loosened and she saw him frown.
“What’s wrong?” He asked.
Charlotte paused a moment before asking, “Did your other wife make you feel this way? Were you excited at your wedding?”
“Charlotte.” His hands tightened around her waist. “I was excited to marry her. But it’s what came after that wasn’t so exciting. The fights, the constant working…it was just a pile of things. But with you, we’ve already lived the hard parts and you haven’t once tried to blame me for things that went wrong. You didn’t try to control me or our family. You’ve just been here, loving me. That’s all I’ve ever wanted. Honey, if I could replay my life, I’d find you sooner. You’d love my kids, Tommy especially. Quite the firecracker just like you.”
She sniffled, not aware she was crying at first. Thank goodness for waterproof mascara. She was not having a repeat of Millie’s wedding. “I think you came at the right time, just when I needed you most.”
“I needed you more,” was his short reply. “I was alone, and trying to break through your defenses gave me something to look forward to. I wanted to know everything about you, but I hated you so much. I didn’t know what it was about you that kept making me come back, even when you upset me so much.”
“You could literally have anyone,” She replied. “Rosalia, you could have had her.”
“She was one fairy I’ve talked to,” He said. “One conversation. What about you? You could have had Dio.”
“I only acted that way with him to get you jealous, and he knew that,” She said. “For some reason, I always wanted to impress you. I didn’t like that you hung out with Adeline so much. I wanted more of your attention.”
“You have it all, for the rest of our lives.” He spoke to her as if she was the only woman in the packed church.
“I do,” She murmured, tracing his cheek with her pale finger.
“Save that for the vows.” The ceremony began officially, and Charlotte was prompted to slide the wedding band onto his finger, and Jeff would do the same thing to her. It was trivial, but she had wanted something traditional for once.
“I don’t have anything else to say that I haven’t already,” Charlotte said. “I love you and I can’t live without you. You are the most amazing man, best friend, uncle, father, lover. You’re the whole package, Jeff.”
“You make me feel whole again, like that thing that always held me back is finally full. I don’t wake up and regret my decisions,” He told her. “I wake up with my children and love in my arms. I’m sorry for all of the times that I wasn’t there for you. I’m sorry that I lied about Mason. I’m sorry that sometimes, I’m just not as strong as you.”
Charlotte shut her eyes and took in his words. “Worthless apologies,” She mumbled. “You have nothing to be sorry for. I’m the one who should be apologizing.” She wanted to list off all the things she had done wrong in their relationship, but it would take too long. So, she settled with a question.
“I’m really what you want?” Charlotte asked. “Me?”
“You,” Jeff replied. “I want you. I want our kids. I want our family. Your dad, your sisters, our future nieces and nephews. Everything. I want all of it.”
The vampire inched closer to him, a tantalizing grin on her face. “I can’t believe I fell in love with a human.”
“I can’t believe it either,” came his whispered response. “I can’t believe we’re actually getting married. I can’t believe I’m finally happy.”
“I wish your family was here to see this,” She murmured. “I wish I could meet them.”
“They’d love you,” He assured her. “But, please don’t worry yourself with my past. THis is about my future, which is you and our kids.”
“I worry because I love you,” She said. “I look into the crowd and see my family, and wish yours were here too.”
“I look into the crowd and see my family too,” He replied. “I have a dad in Alistair, a grandfather in Ethan, a sister in Millie and a best friend in Zayne. I have everything I need right here.”
Charlotte slammed her lips onto his. All she had ever wanted was someone she could love, and someone who could love her back. She wanted to be the center of someone’s world. She wanted to be the reason that someone kept fighting. But, most of all, she wanted a family. She wanted a strong unit that would do anything for each other. She may not have had the best life. She may have lived in the shadow of her mother, but, she was not her. She was Charlotte Gray. Jeff had taught her that.
“Are we now husband and wife?” She asked.
“Would help if we had a minister.” Jeff let out a laugh. All of this was for show, they’d still have to fill out their paperwork, but that could wait until after the ceremony. For now, they were married. Finally.
“I guess, we party now,” She said. “Are you ready for that?”
“Of course. Bring on the cake.”
Stepping out into the cool air, Alistair looked around. More guests had arrived. He was surprised to see that Callen was one of them. Charlotte had invited him, Alistair knew that. She didn’t know the man that much more than he did, and she was angry at what happened at his party. But after having a 2 hour long conversation (without her yelling at his every word) with him about their kids, she was convinced that he was a good guy. And, that was a hard judgement to come by in his daughter’s book. “Thanks for coming!” Charlotte called out to him, with a big wave.
“You look gorgeous!” He called back. “Thanks for having us!”
She gave him a thumbs up before she was yanked off in another direction by her sister, Millie. “Talk to him,” Jeff urged, snapping Alistair out of his trance. “He told Charlotte on the phone that he wanted to apologize to you. Whatever happened t his house, he really didn’t mean.”
“Because it’s your wedding day,” Alistair said. “But only because its your wedding day.”
“None of that,” Alistair replied. “That’s dad to you now, okay? You can call me dad too.”
“Dad.” Jeff said it out loud, as if he was tasting the word on his tongue. “Ok dad, talk to Callen.”
So, talk to Callen he did. Alistair dug his hands into the pocket of his black tuxedo pants. “You clean up well,” Alistair commented. “I don’t see any tattoos.”
“Yeah, that happens sometimes,” He mumbled, looking away from the older man’s gaze.
“But, you don’t want to talk about it,” Alistair surmised. “I get it. I’m sorry for pushing you the other day. We just met, I had no right to be so pushy.”
“No, it’s alright. I shouldn’t be so guarded. A new person came in and I didn’t want to scare them away. Believe it or not, I like talking to you and your family. I didn’t want you to know about me. But, that’s not how friendships work, right? I don’t just get to hear your side of the story and not tell mine.”
“You can tell me what you want, when you’re ready,” Alistair said. “I overstepped my boundaries. I’ve held my feelings in so long, that it just came pouring out. I thank you for listening to me. And, also for trying to make things up to Graciela. She got the bracelet Braylen sent her and she appreciates it.”
“Braylen still feels bad,” Callen said. “That vicious behavior isn’t like him. You saw him vomiting right? We feel things differently than you guys do.” He pointed to his wings. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed yet, but there are only two of us in all of Fortitude with white wings. And,” He showed Alistair his arms. “I can conceal my tattoos without any makeup. Braylen and I are different. I thought that was the case with just us, but Braylen seems entranced with Gracie. He says she has an ability like ours. I don’t mean to be dumping this on you at your daughter’s wedding, I just thought that you’d like to know.”
“What do you mean by ability?” Alistair asked. “Concealing tattoos?”
“No.” He broke into a grin. “I don’t know. She’s not a fairy so I can’t tell for sure. But, the way she’s so withdrawn within herself, and the way she was acting when she was released from the dark closet…there is no doubt in my mind that she’s special. She’s different too. I’m sorry I don’t know too much.”
“We already knew she was different than others,” Alistair said. “Charlotte and Jeff are working on something, but you can imagine it’s not been easy.” Callen nodded in understanding. “Look at me, spilling things with no tact around you.”
Callen laughed. “You seem to have a habit of doing that. Luckily for you, I’m a nice guy and totally won’t take advantage of that.” He winked. “Come on, I need an unalcholic beverage. What does an old man like you get?”
“Old man?” Alistair cried, but smiled. “Respect your elders, you ruffian.”